2 April 2004
HAMBURG – A court in Hamburg is likely to ask prosecutors to drop their re-trial case against convicted 11 September plotter Mounir al-Motassadeq and allow him to go free, his lawyers said Friday.
A spokesman for Hamburg State Superior Court declined to comment on the claim except to say the court is expected to hand down a decision early next week.
Motassadeq’s attorney, Josef Graessle-Muenscher, said the court looked favourable during a brief session Friday at his client’s release on bail in the wake of the 4 March ruling by the German Federal Supreme Court in Karlsruhe to order a new trial.
In addition, he said the court asked the prosecution to consider dropping its case in the absence of key evidence from the United States that the State Department has refused to make available for the public trial.
The Moroccan was found guilty by the Hamburg court in February 2003 of being an accessory to the murder of nearly 3,000 people by assisting in the 11 September 2001 suicide attacks in the United States. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
But that was overturned by the German supreme court which quashed the conviction on a technicality, saying essential evidence had not been properly addressed. The court judges said evidence from a witness that might have helped the defence had not been heard.
This was a reference to Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a Yemeni who has reportedly confessed to a central role in the plot.
Al-Shibh has been in US custody since his capture in Karachi, Pakistan in September 2002, but the US refused to release interrogation transcripts for the Hamburg trial.
Motassadeq has been in custody since late 2001. He became the first person ever to go on trial in connection with the 11 September attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
In February, a second Moroccan, Abdel-Ghani Mzoudi, was acquitted on identical charges and evidence in the Hamburg court. Both men were student friends of the suicide pilots, but their lawyers argue that does not prove they knew about the plot.
Subject: German news